[This story was written by Jamie Epting, MS, RD, CDN, the system director of clinical nutrition for St. Peter’s Health Partners.]
After having my first son, I learned that having meals prepared ahead of time was key to having a successful week. It ensured everyone could be fed quickly and easily after a long day of work and school.
This past July I had another little boy and it was during this pregnancy that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. As a nutrition professional, I got a first-hand look at how challenging managing diabetes can be for the patients I counsel.
I had to make sure I had meals and snacks on hand to get me through the day without elevated blood sugar. I’d shop for low-carb snacks and plan my meals over the weekend to be ready for the rush of the week. Nut bars and yogurt were favorite snacks, with frozen yogurt bars for an evening treat, all with less than 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
I often prepped eggs with veggies for a low-carb breakfast, as I knew my blood sugar ran high in the morning. I found low-carb wraps to fill with proteins and veggies for lunch and looked for yummy recipes to cook ahead for dinner; preferably ones that would get us through a couple of nights!
A great resource during this time was www.diabetesfoodhub.org. They have all sorts of great recipes with nutrition information, meal prep and grocery shopping tips, articles and more. The featured casserole recipe below makes enough so there are leftovers for easy lunches and quick weeknight meals. For variety, it is easy to change out the vegetable, grain and type of soup and cheese you use each time you make it.
Easy Chicken and Vegetable Casserole
- Cooked grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or farro 2 1/2 cups
- Cooked chicken (chopped) 1 lb (about 3 cups)
- Salt 1/4 tsp
- Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, zucchini (fresh, frozen, or precooked) 1 lb (about 3 1/2 cups)
- Creamy mushroom or broccoli soup (*not condensed—see note) 2 1/2 cups
- Shredded cheese such as cheddar, jack, or Gruyére 3/4 cup
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a 2-quart baking dish, evenly layer the rice and then chicken. Sprinkle with the salt. Layer with the vegetables.
- Slowly and evenly pour the soup on top. Sprinkle with the cheese. (*Be sure to use a ready-to-eat creamy soup, not condensed. If all you have is condensed, thin it out with milk, broth, or water before adding to the casserole.)
- Bake uncovered until steaming hot, about 30 minutes, and serve.